When Dandi Wind created Bait the Traps, neither member of the two-piece outfit saw much outside of merch table filler for their band’s inauguration to the hotly competitive Canadian live circuit. Instead, Traps caught fire across college radio north of the border and the band, nearing completion on a full-length debut as we speak, found itself walking a tightrope between acclaim and obscurity about as thin as the thread that holds the chaotic Traps from degradating into complete bedlam.
The duo, singer Dandelion Opaine and electro-wizard Szam Findlay, would have stumbled onto some semblance of success almost guaranteed. The people are clamoring for retro; even minimally talented acts are steam-rolling sales with slick production and hella-80s keyboards. But Dandi Wind manage to surpass most of their peers by creating a completely gimmick-free stew of electro, punk, riot, and new-wave. The production, which features only the slightest hint of live instrumentation, is what sells the six songs on Bait the Traps. Findlay hop-scotches notable digital movements: sheets of white noise give way to tinny video-game compositions and soundstructures that appear on the brink of collapse; Aphex Twin and Timbaland have had some sort of radical brainchild, and his arrangements are recognizable without being nostalgic, raw and approachable.
Wind’s vocals are solid but they can pitfall into typical riot-grrrl gymnastics and timbre. Without detracting from Findlay’s production but avoiding really bringing anything new to the table, Opaine recalls Siouxsie, Karen O., and Joan Jett–three admirable influences to be sure, but Opaine does only enough to emulate these artists without truly developing their niche.
The group’s live show exudes charisma, a characteristic also in spades on Traps. This is in large part thanks to Opaine–as Findlay plays the quiet genius in the band’s inner-workings, Opaine grabs the spotlight with her anarchic howl and spastic presence. He wears a suit, she whatever is most torn in her closet at the moment. Together they embody the sense of binary oppositions–as a result, Dandi Wind accelerates best when the production and vocals are at odds. The band has tapped a reliably trendy source of inspiration for Bait the Traps, but do it with a refreshingly realist outlook–bringing a solid work ethic into a genre noted for it’s sloppiness and contrivance. When you begin to work your way into the second and third generations of a musical re-birth, it’s necessary to question the authenticity of the artists and their intentions. Dandi Wind close the case on such questions with Bait the Traps–they’re real, and they’ve got something going for them, at that.